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Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Other Side of the Trade - Core Practice

As a small child, Richie McCaw was asked by his uncle, "do you want to become an All-Black" (New Zealand rugby player)? He forced the boy to write it down. Then he told him to sign it, Richie McCaw G.A.B. (Great All Black). "See it to become it." Years later, McCaw found that paper and realized not only had he achieved the dream, but three years ahead of schedule. 

Inevitably when considering what is right, good, or necessary, we reject the wrong, bad, or optional. How can we know? 

Writing a column "What Belongs in Basketball Practice" presupposes critical reasoning, expertise, experience, and favorable results. Compared to whom or to what? Core practice for sixth graders differs than training college players. Mom would simply ask, "who died and made you King?" 

Thorough examiners ask, "who is on the other side of the trade?" Investment maven Howard Marks describes "active management has to be seen as the search for mistakes." When it comes to practice, what are mistakes - time wasted, skills not taught, or misallocation of training that doesn't yield productivity? Brian McCormick addresses parts in his Fake Fundamentals series. 

I see coaches exhaust time on defensive slides and ignore critical defensive recovery footwork (above). 

But putting in elements and time isn't enough. Does our practice build athleticism, technique, tactics, and psychological resilience? Does practice include pressure and competition to create CLARITY, ACCURACY, and DECISIVENESS? This may require elements of randomness (e.g. mixing defenses or strategies) and disadvantage (e.g. UCONN women practicing against superior men) to forge sustainable competitive advantage. 

In an era of "alternative facts" can we achieve consensus? And even then, arguments arise about choice, time on task, and optimizing practice. 

- Shooting (layups, jump shots, free throws)
- Conditioning (integrated into practice, separate, combined?)
- Pressure (applying and defeating)
- Transition (offensive and defensive) 
- Individual offense and defense (one-on-one, closeouts)
- Team offense and defense (small-sided games, pick-and-roll)
- Special situations (BOB, SLOB, close-and-late)

I absolutely don't have the answers, but question how we can improve practice. Seeing other youth coaches practice makes me wonder about practice system and organizational development. Is balanced offense and defense best or consistent defense and superior offense? How can we find a better way? 


Horns set into "sandwich" (or elevator) screen for trey. Misdirection re: 'back screen' into sandwich. 


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